Posts Tagged ‘Bernard Butler’

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

It Starts And Ends With You

Stream a little stream of Suede, Billy Bragg, Stornoway, and more

Photo By Roger SargentRoger SargentI find it equally amusing/confounding that veteran artists who return after long hiatuses or breakups are almost always initially met with open arms – my favourite band when I was a teenager is back! – but it’s rarely long before that goodwill starts turning a bit sour. Tour the greatest hits that everyone thinks they want to hear, and it’s all “you’re just cashing in on my nostalgia!” but have the audacity to record new material, and with few exceptions the best they can hope for is a tepid, “it’s not as good as your old stuff” or “it just sounds like you”. Which is hilarious because if it didn’t sound like them, the complaint would be, “it doesn’t sound like you”. Who else should they sound like? And how many revolutions do they owe you? 33-1/3 or 45, but that’s it.

I’ve heard the “more of the same” argument leveled against recent releases by My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie – both very good records, by my reckoning – and expect to hear it again now that the release of the first Suede album in over a decade – Bloodsports – is out next week. No, it’s not a return to the glam-rock drama and decadence of their first two albums, nor does it have the, “we’re not dead” defiance that made post-Butler Coming Up such a surprise. It doesn’t even meet the bar of “amazing” that Brett Anderson had said would be needed for the sessions to be released. But it is concise, hooky, and energized in a way that neither Head Music or A New Morning were, and most importantly its swagger and romanticism feel authentically Suede in a way no one else has done in many, many years. And that’s all I would have asked for.

NPR has an advance stream of the new record, and Clash has an interview with the band. And tangentially, Louder Than War has an interview with former Suede guitarist-turned-producer Bernard Butler about what he’s up to these days.

MP3: Suede – “Barriers”
Video: Suede – “It Starts And Ends With You”
Stream: Suede / Bloodsports

In other advance streaming news, CBC Music has a Q&A with Billy Bragg as well as a stream of his new record Tooth and Nail, in stores next week. He’s at The Danforth Music Hall on May 4, and is also interviewed by Music Radar. Update: Apparently the CBC stream is geoblocked to Canada; others should try The Quietus and their Soundcloud-powered stream.

Video: Billy Bragg – “No One Knows Anything Anymore”
Stream: Billy Bragg / Tooth and Nail

PopMatters has got an advance stream of the new Stornoway record Tales From Terra Firma; it’s out March 19 and they play The Horseshoe on May 9. There’s also an interview with frontman Oli Steadman at Music Radar.

Video: Stornoway – “Knock Me On The Head”
Stream: Stornoway / Tales From Terra Firma

Rolling Stone is hosting the advance stream for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s new album Specter Af The Feast, out officially on March 19, while Elle has a quick chat with drummer Leah Shapiro. They’ll tour the new album through the Kool Haus on May 9.

Stream: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club / Specter At The Feast

Belfast post-rock instrumentalists And So I Watch You From Afar are streaming their new album All Hail Bright Futures, out March 19, over at Noisey.

Stream: And So I Watch You From Afar / All Hail Bright Futures

And finally for advance listens, NOT out next week but already available to stream is the first album in seven years from The House Of Love. She Paints Words In Red will be out April 1.

Stream: The House Of Love / She Paints Words In Red

Beatroute and The Province talk to Efterklang, coming to town for a Canadian Musicfest show at The Mod Club on March 21.

Ólafur Arnalds offers The Quietus a list of his favourite albums. For Now I Am Winter gets a North American release April 2.

The Knife have released a second, characteristically batshit video from their new record Shaking The Habitual, out April 9.

Video: The Knife – “A Tooth For An Eye”

DIY and Clash have features on Iceage, coming to town for NXNE on June 15 and 16.

Empire Of The Sun have finally, improbably, announced the release of their second album – Ice On The Dune will be out in June, and to get you excited there’s the inevitable album trailer.

Trailer: Empire Of The Sun / Ice On The Dune

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

We Can Get Together

The Hold Steady declare Heaven to be right now; advance stream new album

Photo By Mark SeligerMark SeligerPerhaps cognizant of the fact that their new record would be ripped and leaked to the internet approximately 41 minutes and 20 seconds after the first store opened up on Saturday for Record Store Day and the first of those 600 limited edition LPs sold, The Hold Steady have made Heaven Is Whenever available to stream at NPR in its entirety, more than two weeks ahead of its official May 4 street date. The record is their first since the departure of keyboardist Franz Nicolay and accordingly, first impressions reveal a leaner, more guitar-driven sound though there’s still keyboard flourishes where necessary and, if my ears don’t deceive me, some clarinet action as well.

The first leg of North American touring for the album only covered some American west coast and southeast dates, but after a month in Europe in June, they’re back on the road in July and while full dates are still forthcoming, one is confirmed for July 16 at the Kool Haus in Toronto with The Whigs as support. Yes, it took a while but it appears that everyone’s favourite bar band is now too big to play bars. They’re still trying to make the show special, however. Dubbed “Sneakers & Speakers”, it’s being co-presented by former Toronto Raptor and on-record music aficionado Matt Bonner – the Red Rocket – and a portion of the ticket sales will be donated to the Toronto Boys & Girls Club. Tickets for the show will be $21.50 and go on sale Friday. Update: Full tour dates from the second North American leg are up, and it looks like the T.O. show is the tour closer. If you think THAT’S not going to be beer-soaked, you are dumb.

And if you want to hear how the new stuff sounds alongside the old, NYC Taper is sharing a recording of the band’s show at the Bowery in New York last week.

Stream: The Hold Steady / Heaven Is Whenever

Also coming soon to your ears via advance stream is High Violet, the new record from The National. Starting this Friday, it’ll be streaming at The New York Times for the two and a half weeks leading up to its May 11 release. That’s right, the Old Gray Lady is getting her rocks off. Drowned In Sound and Black Book have features on the band, who will be at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

Filter Q&As The Antlers, who have released a new video from Hospice and are opening up both of those Massey shows for The National. There’s a streamable session with the band at WPGU wherein they cover The xx and if you head over to their website, you can currently download two pre-HospiceNew York Hospitals and Cold War.

Video: The Antlers – “Sylvia”

The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Santa Barbara Independent and Aquarium Drunkard have interviews with Beach House. They play the Toronto Islands on June 19.

The Colorado Springs Independent and OC Weekly talk to Alan Sparhawk of Retribution Gospel Choir.

The Courier-Journal, and Spinner talk to Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles.

Filter thinks you should already know Ted Leo. He’s at Lee’s Palace on June 26.

Voxy has an interview with Wilco’s John Stirratt.

MBV Music has got the first MP3 from the forthcoming Pernice Brothers record Goodbye, Killer. It’s out June 15.

New LCD Soundsystem video. I hope they dress their roadies up like pandas whilst on tour. This Is Happening is out May 18 and they play the Kool Haus on May 25.

Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”

M.I.A. will release her third album, as yet untitled, on June 29.

The Fader have got an MP3 of the Blonde Redhead contribution to 4AD’s Record Store Day 12″ available to download.

MP3: Blonde Redhead – “Not Getting There”

CokeMachineGlow has an interview with A Sunny Day In Glasgow.

A Head Full Of Wishes reports that Dean & Britta’s soundtrack for the 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests film will be getting a release this Summer.

Tonight’s Los Campesinos! gig at the Phoenix has been canceled due to volcanic activity; the band are still stuck in the UK. Refunds available at point of purchase.

Following their April 23 show at the Horseshoe, Heavy Trash will play an in-store at Sonic Boom on April 24 at 2PM.

Daniel, Fred & Julie are scheduled to play an in-store at Soundscapes on April 26 at 7:30PM.

It’s almost a V Fest 2008 reunion when Silversun Pickups and Against Me! hit the road with The Henry Clay People for a North American tour that includes a June 29 date at the Sound Academy in Toronto; tickets $34.50 in advance.

Crowded House will be at Massey Hall on July 12 in support of their new record Intriguer, due out June 12. The Herald-Sun and The Daily Telegraph talk to Neil Finn about the new album.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros have a July 30 date at the Phoenix, tickets $19 in advance.

MP3: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes – “40 Day Dream”

Bernard Butler gives BBC6 a guitar lesson, teaching them – and you – how to play “Animal Nitrate”. Probably the closest we’ll ever come to hearing him play Suede songs again.

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

A Coming Of Age

Review of Lucky Soul’s A Coming Of Age

Photo via Lucky SoulLucky SoulHere’s a little bit of trivia for you. Of the 66 artists who’ve either placed in my year-end lists since I began recording them in 2003 or made my “favourite records of the past seven years” list, 18 of them have or are about to release new records this year, eight more were due to put one out this year, eight have put out solo records or collaborations and five more are currently in the studio. Which is to say that if past history is any indicator, 2010 is going to be an exceptional year for music.

While it’s presumptuous to assume that many or even any of those acts will be making repeat appearances on any list of this year’s favourites, one follow-up that’s pretty much a shoo-in is A Coming Of Age, the sophomore effort from London’s Lucky Soul. Their 2007 debut The Great Unwanted was and remains one of my favourite releases of this century, a pretty much perfect collection of classically-styled, throwback pop built on Andrew Laidlaw’s songwriting and Ali Howard’s sun-kissed vocals. So while I was clearly going to be favourably inclined towards the follow-up, it also had some huge footsteps to follow in – footsteps which it uses not so much as a starting line but a launching pad.

It was already clear from the new material previewed when I went to see Lucky Soul make their live US debut in October 2008 that the band had ambitions beyond the northern soul/girl-group vibe that they had pretty much perfected their first time out, but I was still more than surprised by the range of influences that come into play on A Coming Of Age. There are the disco inflections of the irresistible leadoff track, “Whoa Billy!”, the ’80s indie jangle of “White Russian Doll”, the classic Motown stylings of “Love 3”, the light country twang of “Upon Hilly Fields”… and that’s just the first third of the record. Of course, such ranginess wouldn’t be something to laud if they weren’t able to pull it all off but they certainly do, all without losing any of their own distinct personality – quite the opposite, in fact.

The more they push outwards from what The Great Unwanted defined Lucky Soul as, the more they prove they’re so much more than what that implied. It certainly reinforces their ability to craft a pop hook for the ages, and addition to the greater blend of styles, the material also covers a greater emotional spectrum. The charming girlishness of Ali Howard’s presence, which so perfectly captured the spirit of their debut, has matured and grown more experienced on the follow-up with Howard’s stronger voice proving up to the task of expressing those emotions. The best examples of what Lucky Soul are capable of now come at what would logically be the final tracks of sides A and B – the title track and “Could It Be I Don’t Belong Anywhere” – both of which ride sweeping string sections to dramatic effect but stay just on the right side of tasteful, evoking grandeur rather than excess. The latter, in particular, deftly runs the gamut from daydreamy wistfulness to swirling tumult so naturally, you don’t even notice the storm clouds gather until they’re upon you and it does it in under three-and-a-half minutes, providing a remarkable finale to a remarkable record from a most remarkable band.

Lucky Soul have just released a new puppet-powered video for “Whoa Billy!” which was written, shot, edited entirely by the band. A Coming Of Age is out next Monday in the UK, with no domestic release at the moment but and both have it listed as imports. The Von Pip Musical Express talks to songwriter Andrew Laidlaw, who has also taken to the band’s blog to annotate a song from the new record each day over the next twelve days or so. Touring over here is probably far too much to hope for, but if they manage to make it over here for a date or two again, you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be there.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “A Coming Of Age”
MP3: Lucky Soul – “Whoa Billy!”
Video: Lucky Soul – “Whoa Billy!”
Video: Lucky Soul – “White Russian Doll”
MySpace: Lucky Soul

The New York Times gets a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion and styling of Florence & The Machine; NPR and Blare also have interviews with Florence Welch.

Spinner talks to Doves about their new best-of collection The Places Between, from which they’ve released a video for the one new song.

Video: Doves – “Andalucia”

There’s also a new Lightspeed Champion clip from Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You. NME reports that Dev Hynes recently had a bad time with some medical issues, but is feeling better now.

Video: Lightspeed Champion – “Madame Van Damme”

And also one from Emma Pollock, taken from her second solo record The Law Of Large Numbers.

Video: Emma Pollock – “Red Orange Green”

Metro and Love Shack Baby have interviews with members of Fanfarlo.

The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, The Province and The Vancouver Sun have features on and MPR a streaming radio session with The xx. They’re at the Kool Haus on April 20.

Song By Toad has a lovely session with Mumford & Sons available to download.

A first sample of Been Listening, the second album from Johnny Flynn, is now available to download. The record is out June 7.

MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Kentucky Flynn”

The Quietus has details on The Boxer, the debut solo effort from (former?) Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke. It’s out June 21.

NME reports that Richard Hawley will release a new digital EP on June 8 entitled False Lights From The Land, featuring “Remorse Code” from last year’s Truelove’s Gutter, one new song and two covers.

Fyfe Dangerfield will be playing a handful of North American dates in support of his solo record Fly Yellow Moon, including a May 23 date at the El Mocambo. Leeds Music Scene and The Linc have interviews with the lead singer of The Guillemots.

MP3: Fyfe Dangerfield – “She Needs Me”
Video: Fyfe Dangerfield – “She Needs Me”

Athlete will bring their new record Black Swan to Lee’s PAlace on June 7 – full North American dates at The Music Slut.

Video: Athlete – “Black Swan Song”

The June 1 release of The Futureheads’ new record The Chaos will be accompanied by a North American tour, including a June 10 date at the Mod Club. There’s a feature piece on the band at News Of The World.

MP3: The Futureheads – “Struck Dumb”

The Guardian reports that Supergrass will be calling it a day this Summer, after 17 years of power-pop.

Video: Supergrass – “Richard III”

If you’ve got 90 minutes to kill, then this episode of BBC6’s The Record Producers on Bernard Butler is well worth a listen – it examines his works from Suede through his solo career to his role today as one of the most in-demand producers in the UK, complete with interviews and exclusive audio samples.

The Sun reports that Blur will release their first new single in seven years this Saturday for Record Store Day in the UK. The head of their label Parlophone tells BBC6 he hopes this is just the start of more new music from the band. Of course he does.

Spinner talks to Bernard Sumner about both Bad Lieutenant and New Order.

Drowned In Sound gets to know Chapterhouse, whose May 1 show at the Horseshoe has unfortunately been cancelled.

Roger Waters will kick off the 30th anniversary tour for Pink Floyd’s The Wall on September 15 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The Toronto Star talks to Waters about the tour, which he says will likely be his last.

Eardrums talks to the makers of a documentary currently being made about legendary Sarah Records label. The Story Of Sarah Records isn’t due out until the end of the year, but a teaser trailer is up now and call for stories and memorabilia about the label open.

Trailer: The Story Of Sarah Records

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Bricks And Mortar

Review of Editors’ In This Light And On This Evening

Photo By KEvin WestenbergKevin WestebergThe first thing to keep in mind when listening to Editors is that they’re patently ridiculous. Their grandiose, hyper-dramatic Brit-rock may not be as over-the-top absurd as, say, Muse, say, but it does trend along those same lines. Throw in frontman Tom Smith’s gift for crafting nonsensical lyrics and delivering them as with an earnest, clenched-teeth intensity, and if you’re able to reconcile that before sitting down for a listen – and I, despite my better judgment, find that I can – then you’re fine.

While their debut The Back Room was decidedly lean post-rock, the follow-up An End Has A Start took a more widescreen, anthemic approach, upping the ante in dynamics, sonic scope and melodramatics. Both records, however, were built firmly on a foundation of guitars and that makes their third record In This Light And On This Evening, with its massive banks of synthesiszers lifted from the goth and New Wave movements of the late ’70s and early ’80s and buffed to a 21st century sheen, something of a departure. But only something. As the title track and lead single “Papillon” prove, Editors can be just as visceral and thrilling pounding on plastic keys as wrangling guitar strings, but when they fall into a more ponderous, mid-tempo groove as they do on the second half of the record, the results are less engaging and their weak points aren’t sufficiently masked by their strengths.

Editors make easy critical targets for the reasons stated above and many others, and people generally aren’t shy about taking those shots. But they deserve credit for being good at what they do and yet be willing to completely screw with their formula – that the results aren’t an unqualified triumph almost makes the effort more noble. That said, they’d do well to bust out the guitars again for album number four. I think everyone will be happier that way.

PopMatters has an interview with guitarist Chris Urbanowicz while Flavorwire and Filter chat with drummer Ed Lay. In This Light And On This Evening was released in North America this week, three months after the UK release. It’s currently available to stream over at Spinner, but only the album itself – not the five bonus tracks which have been collectively dubbed Cuttings II and are supposed to be appended to the North America release. They play the Phoenix on February 16.

Video: Editors – “You Don’t Know Love”
Video: Editors – “Papillon”
Stream: Editors / In This Light And On This Evening

Another British recipient of a delayed release is Little Boots, whose debut Hands will be available over here domestically come March 2. She’s booked a much fuller North American tour than the one that brought her to Wrongbar in September and it includes a date at The Phoenix on April 30, with Dragonette supporting.

Video: Little Boots – “Remedy”
Video: Little Boots – “New In Town”

And if Under The Radar reports that the release dates for Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can have been moved around a bit from initial announcements, and will now be out in North America on April 6, a couple weeks after its March 22 UK release date. She plays Lee’s Palace on February 9. NME has had a listen and offers up some track-by-track impressions.

Paste declares Mumford & Sons one of their “best of what’s next”. They’re at Lee’s Palace on February 15 and their debut Sigh No More gets a North American release on March 15.

BBC6 gets Bernard Butler’s thoughts on the impending one-off Suede reunion, which he says he wasn’t asked to participate in. But probably would have said no anyways.

A pleasant surprise from Tuesday Guide yesterday, noting that Elbow’s glorious The Seldom Seen Kid Live At Abbey Road collaboration with the BBC Concert Orchestra – previously only available in the UK and thus as a PAL/Region-2 DVD – has been released in North America with an NTSC/Region-free DVD. Not cheap, but cheaper than buying the UK version and you can actually watch it here!

Video: Elbow – “Grounds For Divorce” (live at Abbey Road)

Paste talks with Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, whose new record The Winter Of Mixed Drinks is set for a March 9 release.

Mogwai Special Moves is a website dedicated to the forthcoming Mogwai live film Burning and a live MP3 of “2 Wrongs Make 1 Right” can be had in exchange for your email address. Prefix has details on the CD/DVD/3LP live album entitled, appropriately, Special Moves, coming out sometime this Spring.

Rolling Stone gathers up the latest bits and bobs of news from camp Radiohead, but not including this video interview with Ed O’Brien at Midem where he talks about the problems the band had whilst making In Rainbows.

The xx have released a new video from XX. They will be at the Phoenix on April 4 and the Kool Haus on April 20.

Video: The xx – “VCR”

PitchforkTV takes The Big Pink up onto a Manhattan rooftop and makes them play for their cameras… or else. They can expect a less acrophobic environment when they play The Mod Club on March 24.

Disorder interviews The High Wire. Their new record The Sleep Tape is out in March.

Los Campesinos! have put out a video for the title track of their new record Romance Is Boring, out next Tuesday.

Video: Los Campesinos! – “Romance Is Boring”

Baeble Music is streaming video of a complete Camera Obscura concert from the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn last November.

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Crystal Visions

An introduction to The Big Pink

Photo By Tom BeardTom BeardIf I had more time or inclination, I might try to dig up some biographical info on Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell, the duo who make up the London-based outfit that goes by The Big Pink. But seeing as how they pretty much came out of nowhere from where I stand, I won’t try to pretend I know any more about them than you could glean from reading this piece on them from The Guardian from last November. And instead of talking about who they are, I’ll focus on what they do – which is make a fuzzy, clattering racket that sounds like various shoegazey portions of my CD collection got to copulating when I wasn’t looking.

Their debut A Brief History Of Love is due out on 4AD on September 22 and is currently streaming on the band’s website through the start of next week. It’s louder, funkier and more anthemically inclined than your typical dreampop-inspired sounds, decidedly fond of the square wave, unafraid of digital textures and respectful of the drone. It doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table but it does take some familiar sounds and moves from the last 20 years or so of British space-rock, dusts them off and gives them a good shine before pushing them out onto the dance floor. I approve.

The duo, hopefully bolstered with a live band rather than a laptop, will be touring relentlessly through Europe, the UK and then North America this Fall and that will include a November 29 date at Lee’s Palace. Check them out, but leave the fruit baskets at home.

MP3: The Big Pink – “Dominos”
MP3: The Big Pink – “Velvet”
Video: The Big Pink – “Velvet”
Video: The Big Pink – “Too Young To Love”
MySpace: The Big Pink

Consequence Of Sound has details on the forthcoming reissue of Spiritualized’s seminal Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, which will include new artwork (blasphemy!) to go with two bonus discs of outtakes and general bonus material.

Video: Spiritualized – “Electricity”
Video: Spiritualized – “Come Together”

Interview talks to Guy Garvey of Elbow. Locals may have noticed that the Letterman appearance they canceled last week’s Toronto show for never actually aired – according to this Facebook note, the show ran long and the performance had to be cut from the broadcast. Figures. But they’ve been invited back for another go in September so hopefully they’ll take advantage of being back on this continent and also reschedule that Phoenix show. Fingers crossed.

What We See Is What You Get is a site that has taken the Takeaway Show aesthetic of impromptu live performances to the streets of Toronto, and are slowly building a nice collection of videos including this one with Frightened Rabbit.

Maximo Park checks in from Japan with a tour diary dispatch for Spinner. They’ll be at Lee’s Palace on September 18.

The Quietus trades emails with The Twilight Sad’s. Their new album Forget The Night Ahead is out out September 22 and they’ll be at the El Mocambo on October 10.

They’re accompanied on that tour with We Were Promised JetpacksThe Wickerman Festival have an interview with the band.

Exclaim reveals that Echo & The Bunnymen have finally set a release date for their new album The Fountain – look for it October 12, but don’t look for them to play it when they’re at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 20 – that evening is dedicated to Ocean Rain.

Billboard reports that Jarvis Cocker is writing songs for the Russell Brand-powered “sequel” to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To The Greek.

Stereogum gets a progress report on album four from The Futureheads.

Kate Nash reveals to NME that Bernard Butler will be producing her second album. I like the sounds of that, yes I do.

NME also has an update from Glasvegas on their plans for recording album number two.

Bloc Party tells NME they have no definite plans for a new album or really anything at all once the current round of touring is over.

Already out in the UK, Noah & The Whale’s sophomore effort The First Days Of Spring will get a North American release on October 6 with touring on this side of the Atlantic to follow later that month.

NPR is streaming a session with Robyn Hitchcock.

Chart talks to Anthony Gonzalez of M83.

Both NOW, eye and The Montreal Mirror welcome St Vincent to Canada. St Vincent plays the Horseshoe on Saturday night.

Interview chats briefly with Lykke Li, in town at the Sound Academy on Sunday evening.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs review and photos coming Monday. There’s a lot to go through!